The Hard Reality of Low Expectations

Over the last few weeks, the economy may have a turned a corner.  After several years in which public confidence has greatly exceeded any reasonable level based on underlying economic fundamentals, we suddenly face a diametrically different dilemma. 

Now, the problem is that doom and gloom is the order of the day -- indeed, consumer confidence has hit new lows.  The very same economists who first warned of us of the impending meltdown, now talk of a need to find the economic silver lining because hopelessness is a self-fulfilling prophecy, even in economics.


Just what do we have to be optimistic about? Quite a lot actually.  All around us are the signs of innovative bursts that promise to let us do more with fewer resources and devote the savings to still newer and more innovative opportunities.  In a recent column, even Paul Krugman, once a harbinger of the apocolypse, sounds slight notes of optimism.  

While we certainly don't need any more false optimism, false pessimism will be lethal and hold us back as long as we allow it to.  As such, I'm going to start compiling a list of the everyday innovations -- from small steps forward to giant leaps -- that are sowing the seeds of growth even as the economy contracts. Hopefully having these opportunities in plain sight will help convince people they exist.

In fact, one perfect example may be sitting on your desk right now.  The advent of $300 (or lower) Netbooks heralds an age of greater global access to the web at vastly lower costs, meaning more people contributing to our collective 'human network' and more people benefitting from it.

Stress is contagious–but resilience can be too

The way that you think about stress can actually transform the effect that it has on you – and others.

Big Think Edge
  • Stress is contagious, and the higher up in an organization you are the more your stress will be noticed and felt by others.
  • Kelly McGonigal teaches "Reset your mindset to reduce stress" for Big Think Edge.
  • Subscribe to Big Think Edge before we launch on March 30 to get 20% off monthly and annual memberships.
Keep reading Show less

Do you have a self-actualized personality? Maslow revisited

Rediscovering the principles of self-actualisation might be just the tonic that the modern world is crying out for.

Personal Growth

Abraham Maslow was the 20th-century American psychologist best-known for explaining motivation through his hierarchy of needs, which he represented in a pyramid. At the base, our physiological needs include food, water, warmth and rest.

Keep reading Show less

Scientists reactivate cells from 28,000-year-old woolly mammoth

"I was so moved when I saw the cells stir," said 90-year-old study co-author Akira Iritani. "I'd been hoping for this for 20 years."

Yamagata et al.
Surprising Science
  • The team managed to stimulate nucleus-like structures to perform some biological processes, but not cell division.
  • Unless better technology and DNA samples emerge in the future, it's unlikely that scientists will be able to clone a woolly mammoth.
  • Still, studying the DNA of woolly mammoths provides valuable insights into the genetic adaptations that allowed them to survive in unique environments.
Keep reading Show less

Believe in soulmates? You're more likely to 'ghost' romantic partners.

Does believing in true love make people act like jerks?

Thought Catalog via Unsplash
Sex & Relationships
  • Ghosting, or cutting off all contact suddenly with a romantic partner, is not nice.
  • Growth-oriented people (who think relationships are made, not born) do not appreciate it.
  • Destiny-oriented people (who believe in soulmates) are more likely to be okay with ghosting.
Keep reading Show less